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Omega-3s & Sustainability are Hot: Save Happy Feet

Whole Foods has controversially pulled krill oil supplements from its shelves. (Photo: Stock File/ FIS)

Whole Foods pulls krill oil as industry demands answers

Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 01:50 (GMT + 9)


International omega-3 group Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) has written to Whole Foods requesting additional information regarding the retailer’s decision to pull krill oil supplements from its stores. GOED has also sent the company further information on krill fishery management.

GOED Executive Director Adam Ismael underscored the work conducted by theConvention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), which monitors the Antarctic krill fishery and showed it was well-managed.

The group’s letter reached the Texas-based firm’s management on 3 May, but as of Monday Whole Foods has not responded.

“CCAMLR is a unique organisation because it involves the governments of many nations, as well as concerned stewardship organisations, like Greenpeace,” Ismael wrote, reports Food Navigator. “CCAMLR actually just implemented new measures in November for the krill fishery, which further protects predator species that feed on krill, as well as protecting the krill fishery itself.”

When implementing the ban, Whole Foods posted a statement in its stores for customers to read.

“Krill are an important source of food for marine animals including penguins, seals, and whales in the Antarctic,” it said. “Declines of some predator populations in the areas where the krill fishery operates suggest that fishery management needs to better understand how to evaluate the prey requirements of other marine species in order to set sustainable catch levels for krill.”

“Consequently, at present we are choosing to discontinue the sale of krill supplements as we continue to evaluate this emerging research. Please consider alternatives to krill oil supplements such as fish oil or astaxanthin supplements,” it recommended.

A Whole Foods spokesperson told said the firm had sent GOED the statement.

Despite relevant documented concerns, the krill industry insists only nine vessels are licensed to fish krill in the Antarctic and that they all abide by CCAMLR guidelines.

Daniel Fabricant, PhD, vice president of global government and scientific affairs at the Natural Products Association (NPA) in Washington, DC, expressed understanding about the overfishing argument if krill were actually being harvested from predator species sources.

“I believe the bulk of the marine oils that are in commerce are produced either through farms or regulatory programs like the CCAMLR, so that’s where the real question regarding sustainability would appear to reside,” he commented.

Mikcey Schuett, the director of sales at Colorado-based Azantis, and others working in krill have expressed confusion about Whole Foods’s move.

“When you consider about 99 per cent of the krill catch is used in animal feed and only one percent for human nutrition, this ban seems hard to justify,” he stated.

He noted the status of the CCAMLR protocols that included assigning independent scientific observers to all nine vessels to supervise fishing practices.

“I think this will end up being a positive for the krill industry because in the end what it is doing is spotlighting how well managed the industry is,” he added.

By Natalia Real